Nürburgring goes off the record

Looking over Quiddelbacher Hohe to Flugplatz accident site, April 2015

The fallout from the tragic accident at the Nürburgring in the VLN1 race back in March has continued with the track’s owners, capricorn Nürburgring GmbH, deciding to extend the speed limits initially introduced for motorsport only to all Nordschleife track activites.

That means all Touristenfahrten days will have speed limits. All private track days will have speed limits. And all industry pool days will have speed limits.

Capricorn has still gone one step further by officially banning any new attempts at lap records. This statement was issued late last week:

“Following the tragic accident on 28 March 2015, the German motorsport association (DMSB) introduced speed limits for races at the Nürburgring. capricorn NÃœRBURGRING GmbH has decided to extend these speed limits to other activities on the Nordschleife, which is why record drives are currently not permitted on the Nürburgring Nordschleife,” said Carsten Schumacher, CEO of capricorn NÃœRBURGRING GmbH.

The VLN accident happened at the entry to the Flugplatz right hander where a Nissan GT-R got airborne over the Quiddelbacher Hohe “jump” and crashed into the crowd killing one spectator.

The image above was taken in late April looking at Quiddelbacher Hohe, with the entry to Flugplatz over the crest. Workers were modifying the fences around the spectator area ahead of the VLN2 race.

A 200km/h speed limit applies from Hocheichen to Flugplatz (all activities).

A 250km/h speed limit applies from Flugplatz to Schwedenkreuz (all activities).

The usual 90–50km/h speed limits apply on the approach to the Breidscheid Bridge track entry (TF only).

A 250km/h speed limit applies on the main Döttinger Hohe straight, from the “gantry” to Antoniusbusche (all activities).

The initial introduction of speed limits for VLN competition, including the Nürburgring 24 hour race, was hoped to have been an introductory measure that was able to be brought in relatively quickly while a longer term solution was developed.

Looking over Quiddelbacher Hohe to Flugplatz accident site, April 2015

Looking over Quiddelbacher Hohe to Flugplatz accident site, April 2015

However, it now seems that speed limits are here to stay for the forseeable future. Notwithstanding the respect for the family and friends of the innocent spectator who lost his life, a racetrack with speed limits is a pretty daft solution to the problem at hand, which was elite level GT3 racecars getting airborne on one section of a 20.8km circuit.

As a privately-owned company with its own inusrance issues capricorn Nürburgring GmbH has to be seen to reduce the potential for repeat accidents. In theory, there’s nothing stopping a GT3 car rocking up to a TF session and cirulating the track at near competition speeds.

Despite that, in real terms the TF speed limits are not too much of a concern to the ongoing appeal of the Nürburgring. The number of cars—and more pertinently, the number of drivers—capable of reaching those speeds during public sessions is very small. It’s the possible impact the speed limits will have on industry pool testing and ongoing motorsport activities that could have a longlasting effect on the mystique and aura of the Nürburgring.

Let’s face it lap records at the Ring have become a marketing smorgasboard in recent years for manufacturers desperate to appeal to new and existing buyers.

We don’t know what the future of the Nürburgring holds. What we do know is that a racetrack which places artifical limits on the performance of racecars is not good for competition and not good for fans.

Further, the extension of speed limits to all track activities will, for the time being, potentially prevent the marketing and advertising spin off dollars from leveraging off the aura of the Nürburgring.

What do we have left? That’s the real question and if I lived in or around Nürburg I’d be very concerned.

[Source: bridgetogantry]